A veteran of nine major league seasons, Brocail, however, hadn't seen the majors since 2000, all after two consecutive Tommy John surgeries, The Star-Telegram wrote.
"I feel pretty good about it," Brocail told The Star-Telegram that spring. "I know I'm going to have to pitch my rear end off. I'm not afraid of that."
Brocail's "long shot" ended up turning into a roster spot. It also turned into time in six more major league seasons. He didn't pitch in his last big league contest until 2009, at age 42 with the Astros.
He has since gone on to teach others the lessons he learned through his long career. He's done so as a major league pitching coach, with the Astros, Rangers and Orioles.
Brocail's long career in baseball began in 1986, taken by the Padres in the first round of the January draft out of Lamar Community College in Colorado.
Brocail started with the Padres at short-season Spokane. He went 5-4 in 15 starts, with a 3.81 ERA. He made single-A Charleston in 1987, then AA Wichita in 1989. He saw AAA Las Vegas in 1992, then debuted that September in San Diego.
His debut, though, didn't go exactly according plan. He went 3.2 innings and gave up four earned at San Francisco. But he did pick up a bunt single, The Los Angeles Times wrote.
"It's not the kind of debut you'd like to have," Brocail told reporters afterward, according to The Times, "but I'm sure I'll remember it. I really wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be, until I stepped to the plate. Then I started shaking real bad."
Brocail got three starts that September, giving up 10 earned in 14 innings. He then returned in 1993 for 24 starts. He went 4-13, with a 4.56 ERA.
He then turned reliever in 1994 and saw 12 relief outings. He moved to the Astros for 1995 and 1996 and then the Tigers in 1997. With the Tigers in 1997, he saw 61 outings, four starts. He went 3-4, with a 3.23 ERA.
Going into that first campaign with the Tigers, Brocail spoke with The Associated Press about getting a queasy feeing about getting out on the mound.
"If I ever lose that feeling before I pitch, that's the day I'm quitting baseball," Brocail told The AP. "It lets me know that I'm alive and feeling good. But it'll be gone on the first pitch. That's when you tighten the belt, get over it and get to work."
Brocail stayed with the Tigers through 2000. He saw 60 relief outings for the club in 1998, 70 in 1999 and 49 in 2000.
He then underwent his Tommy John surgeries. Upon his return in 2004, he saw 43 outings for the Rangers that year and 61 in 2006. Going into 2006, he underwent two more surgeries, on his heart to open up near total blockages that could have taken his life at any moment, according to The Dallas Morning News.
He returned to the field with the Padres that year and the next, then the Astros in 2008 and 2009. His 2009 campaign proved his last. He saw 20 outings, with a 4.58 ERA that year to end his career.
By 2011, Brocail had started his new career, as a coach. He served that year and the next as pitching coach of the Astros. By 2016, he was pitching coach for the Rangers. He stayed there through 2018, when he moved to the Orioles for 2019. He stayed there through 2020.
- Los Angeles Times, Sept. 10, 1992: Doug Brocail
- Petoskey News-Review, Associated Press, April 1, 1997: Tigers' starter Brocail is an open book
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 4, 2004: Healthy Brocail rebuilding career
- Dallas Morning News, April 5, 2016: Grant: 10 years after life-saving surgery, Rangers pitching coach has different outlook on life
Made the Majors:1,220-34.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,280-65.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:507-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299